I made bread last night. Just two small round loaves of wholewheat. Finishing up some bits of flour. I'm really pleased with them. Good crust. Nice crumb. I ate three pieces fresh out of the oven with super yellow salted butter.
And I got to thinking about the value of making bread at home.
1. It isn't always better than what you can buy. It's special, because it's homemade but Eau a la Bouche has better bread. But Tesco (or any big store that is producing hundreds of loaves) isn't going to be as good. So homemade wins against mass produced, but not fancy artisanal.
2. Ingredients: Flour. Flour is cheap. But what about quality flour? What's the difference between grocery store brand flour and the Shipton Mills I have my eye on? The Shipton Mills is twice the price of the grocery store. Will it make that much better a loaf? What kind/quality of flour do commercially produced loaves use? Is that one of the factors in E5 Bakehouse vs Gregg's?
I feel a challenge coming on. Will buy my Shipton Mills basket (currently at ten kilos of flour), make bread and report back. And maybe ask the nice bakery people in the market if they know anything about the flour their products are made from... requires further investigation.
3. Ingredients: Extras. My bread is flour, yeast, salt and water. There is a brilliant double page spread in Richard Bertinet's book Dough - one side is a loaf of homemade bread and the ingredient list. The other side is the store bought bread and ingredient list. Four ingredients versus a long list. No question. Make your own damn bread.
4. Time investment: Not that much really. I mean sure you need to do it but seriously - making the dough takes maybe 20 minutes? Then it's mostly leave it alone until it's ready to be shaped and baked. Hell you can even do the no-knead thing. Total active time investment is probably less than walking to your nearest bakery. Unless you're super lucky. In which case can I come stay with you?
5. Love. Well, there is that.
My Grandma on the Mountain could bake anything but she didn't bake bread. The story is that she made a loaf once and my Grandpa and Great Uncle Malc took it out in the backyard and played football with it. She never repeated the experiment.
The recipe for buns that my mom makes for holiday meals is from her Aunt Jessie who was a fabulous cook. I crave her apple pudding recipe often.
Baking bread at home is special. Maybe not for everyday, but always preferable over big store bread. And it fills the house with warmth and love.